By Shannon Graham
Sweaty palms, nervous butterflies, inability to focus. Sound familiar? This perfectly described me as I was getting ready for an interview with a women’s athletic wear company about two years ago. I had done scholarship interviews before, but this was my first real job interview. Not knowing how to prepare for it, I printed off my resume, looked up the company’s mission statement and called it good. No practicing, no researching, no mentally preparing. Needless to say, I tanked the interview. It took me a couple of weeks to get over the fact that my interview was so bad I did not even get a call back, but thinking back on it, if I were the manager I would have done the same. However, after working in Career Services for two years, I have learned a thing or two about interviewing and now even though I get nervous, I go into interviews feeling prepared.
It is okay to be nervous for an interview. I think this is important to say, because it is not often included in interview preparation advice. Being nervous demonstrates that you care about the position you are interviewing for and it is something you really want. That is a good thing. However, being nervous in combination with not preparing enough can be detrimental to your interview. Prepare as much as you can so that you feel confident, then embrace the nerves and remind yourself that they are a good thing.
Here are some general guidelines I always follow when preparing for interviews.
- Analyze the job description
- Clarify your strengths and values
- Research the employer
- Anticipate questions and prepare answers ahead of time
- Prepare questions for the employer
“Research the employer” is in bold, because it used to be the last thing I thought of when preparing for an interview, but it can prove to be one of the most important. If the interviewer asks you why you want to work for their company, you can bet that person is looking for evidence that you know what the company is about and have a specific reason on why you want to work there. If you provide a specific reason that includes details about the company, interviewers can see that you have taken the time to learn about their company and truly care about working there.
These hints can guide you in your own preparation, but don’t stop there! There is a lot more you can do before your interview, including making use of the resources in Career Services.
- Check out the Interviewing page on the Career Services website
- Meet with a staff member to talk about interviewing strategies/preparation
- Hold a mock interview with a staff member
Summer is quickly approaching, so that means the hunt for summer jobs and internships is happening now. For those of you graduating, you may be looking at jobs in the field you want your career to be in. Interviewing is a crucial step in the job hunt process, so start preparing now!